Though little known on these shores, Dutch company Vredestein has been producing both bicycle and automobile tires for over 100 years. The Black Panther XTREME is one of the company’s newer designs- a thoroughly modern trail tire designed for “heavy conditions.” Having had good experience with the 29er version as a racy front XC tire, I jumped at the chance to get the 26in version into some rougher and more varied terrain.
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There are few things that can impact the feel and performance of your bike more than wheels. Drop rotating weight and you’ll feel faster climbing and reaction times will seem to drop. Make them stiffer and control climbs a few notches. Add all that together, and well, you’re looking at a potentially game changing upgrade.
Enter the new 29er AM wheel-set from American Classic. For lack of better terminology to sound intelligent, they’re SWEET!
See all of our Project 24.2 posts here!
For the most part, it’s hard to get too excited about stems. If they do their job well (and most do), they’re essentially unnoticeable. Of course, if they don’t they’re ugly, flexy, or (if they do their job especially poorly) fail catastrophically. That said, when we posted early word of Ritchey’s new C260 line of stems this fall, people got pretty excited.
Owing to its 260 degree clamp and gently curved 3-bolt steerer clamp, Ritchey’s WCS C260 stem tests 3-4x stronger in its aluminum form than any previous Ritchey stem- while being 30% stiffer than the preceding 4Axis design. Throw a unidirectional carbon wrap over the same basic design and weight goes up by ~15g (to an actual 110g in our 90mm size) and stiffness by an additional 16%. Oh, and it’s prettier, too. After a couple of months on my Project 1.1 single speed and Project 24.2 race bike, has the C260 lived up to its light/strong/sexy billing? Hit the jump to find out…